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Sword swallowing and sphincters

Yesterday, I listened to a podcast on sword swallowing. No, I’m not considering a new career in the circus. Just curious about how it works.

Turns out sword swallowers can control the involuntary muscles in their esophagus. They train the gag reflex to stop working. How? I mean, the gag reflex is controlled by the brain stem! The brain stem controls reflexes. The sword swallower triggers the gag reflex over and over until it stops working. Then the sword swallower learns to relax the involuntary muscles of two sphincters–one at the top of the esophagus and one at the base. This control allows the sword to enter the stomach.

I’m absolutely amazed at this ability.

Some sword swallowers even drop a sword into their throat (or, in one case, shoot it from a gun!). To keep it from, you know, killing them, they “catch it” by contracting their esophageal muscles and sphincters.


You know where I’m going with this, yes?

The cervix is a sphincter. Can we train it? How? I would have women lining up to take my class if I unlocked the secrets of the sword swallowing sphincter tricks.

Maybe I need to buy tickets to the circus.